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Setting up a website from scratch: tools for building a website

When creating the pages of your website, please consider people with less than perfect eyesight and hearing when you create your pages. The World Wide Web consortium has set up standards for web page accessibility that you may want to check out before you begin. Here's a brief synopsis of accessibility standards..

Editing tools To help you to build your website pages:

WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) Software

The most widely used tool on the market for designing web pages in a visual environment is Adobe Dreamweaver web site creation tool. You can rent it for about $20 a month. Dreamweaver has a rich array of features, which means it will take time to master. I had a client come to me who had struggled for months with it and still wasn't happy about the result.
NetObjects FUSION Essentials offers both free and paid versions. It's completely WYSIWYG.
Kompozer is a FREE open source WYSIWYG web editor.
If you're an Apple user, the standard tool is RapidWeaver. It comes with templates and example sites. It was used by a musician to build Taconic Opera's website.

General office tools

Many business programs such as Microsoft Word provide you with the ability to save a document as a web page. These editors don't usually produce very well constructed pages. For one thing, they don't provide you with a basic web-page-like structure, so your page may look amateurish. For another, they usually add in a lot of extra code, so your pages will be slow to load.

PDF

Adobe Acrobat X Adobe Acrobat or OFF of Power PDF Standard let you create PDF files, which you can use for parts of your website. Google can search their contents as well as regular web pages. You'll still need some sort of tool to link them together into a website.

Adding pictures

Companies like
123rf.com give away some photos or charge only $1 or $2 per photo.
If you think you'll need a lot of photos and/or clip art, there are companies like Deposit Photo that will sell you one month's access to their library of clipart images and photos for about $120.clipart for your website. Make sure the art you use is "royalty free", meaning you have unlimited rights to use it.
If you want to use your own photos or artwork, you might want to get a tool like Adobe Photoshop Elements. to easily edit, create and organize photos. Or you can use Microsoft's Picasa for basic editing.

If you want to use your own photos and drawings

You can use Ribbet Photo Editor, a free online editor for cropping, rotating and sharpening photos and for making photo collages.

If you want custom artwork

You can use crowdsourced graphic design at 99designs.com. Basically, it's a marketplace where you request a design and people bid to create it.

Adding Extras

  • Search Engine
    • ixQuick, will supply you with a free search engine for your site. They show paid listings on the results page, as well as results on your website.
    • FreeFind will also supply a free search box with paid listings. You can get a version without these paid listings for a few dollars.
    You'll need to cut and paste their code into your website page(s).
  • Scripts for games, forms, calculators, special effects, etc.

    You can incorporate some programming into your pages without knowing how to program. The JavaScript Resource provide hundreds of free, ready-written scripts, along with instructions on where where on the page to paste them.

Sign up for PayPal and start accepting credit card payments instantly.

Selling things

You can create BUY NOW or DONATE buttons via PayPal and insert them into your page. (See this page for a step-by-step guide to pasting the code in your page.)
Another simple tool for accepting payments is 2checkout. They provide you with "pay now" buttons and a shopping cart that they host. Their tools are easy to use. again, you need to be able to cut and paste some code into your page.

If you're selling a number of items, use an ecommerce provider such as BigCommerce ecommerce. (See Online stores for more.

Testing

Look at all your web pages on your cell phone in at least the three most popular PC browsers: Microsoft Explorer, Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

You are looking for typos and checking to see that the page looks good, and that all your links work.

Also, try the pages in different screen resolutions. To do this you can get a browser extension like Chrome's Window Resizer.

When you're all finished making sure the page looks okay, you'll need to check that it's optimized for search engines. Google has several webmaster tools to help you evaluate your pages. SEOQuake offers a free toolbar addon for your browser that analyzes several components of your web page from an SEO standpoint.